Sunday, August 02, 2020

'Accept no substitutes' (Sunday homily)

Notice the question 
Saint Paul asked you in the second reading:
“What will separate us from the love of Christ?”

First he reminds us what will NOT separate us: 
“anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, 
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?” He could have said, 
war or election results or economic downturn or Covid-19.

Therefore, what he left out is the answer, i.e., what CAN separate: 
And that is us, you and me.
Our choices can, indeed, separate us from the love of Christ.

How often we focus our energy on things we cannot change, 
rather than on what actually is in our own power, namely:
my heart; my thoughts, my reactions, my choices.

This calls to mind a prayer I often pray, and recommend to others:
“Lord, give me the ‘want-to’”; Give me the desire.
Of course, what I’m really referring to is the Holy Spirit:
He is the “want-to,” the desire, that we receive in baptism;
He draws us always to Jesus, always to be close to him.

Day by day you and I get distracted by other things, 
and it is the Holy Spirit who calls us back, every time, 
to the love of Christ.

Of course, you’re here – that “want-to” has brought you here. 
I’m not just patting you on the back. I’m calling attention 
to the work of God and the action of grace in your life. Notice this!
It is the Holy Spirit, within your heart, that thirsts for God;
And as needed, He will prompt you to realize distance has crept in,
and prod you to draw close again.

This will sound paradoxical, but:
Where our usual goal is to make hunger go away,
Here, it is exactly the opposite.
You and I must stay hungry; indeed, grow hungrier still.
Ravenous; panting and desperate for God!

Isaiah warns us, how easy to feed our God-hunger 
with the wrong stuff. 
How dangerous that is! 

Right now, many aren’t coming to Mass for very good reasons – 
because of health concerns or lack of seating.
Totally understandable.
But let me say out loud what many of us wonder about:
That when the Covid crisis passes, some people won’t be back.

All I can say to you, and encourage you to repeat to others, is:
Only Jesus truly feeds us. Only Jesus makes sense of life.
Only He is solid; everything else can fail.

One day, soon or late, all that I love in this world will fade away.
Same for you: and each of us will be alone. 
You and God, you and Jesus Christ.
Either we will be able to say, “I sought you, you fed me”;
Or he will say, “I never knew you.” 

How good and generous Jesus is to you and me!
Those little nudges from the Holy Spirit,  
that keep on track, or get back where we need to be.
“Pick up the Rosary!” he murmurs, or “turn off the computer!”
Or, “get to confession” or, “Come spend time with Me!”

How good Jesus is to us!
Jesus gives us his own words in the Scriptures.
Once Bibles were rare and few could read them. 
Now everyone can breathe the pure oxygen of God’s Word 
as often and as much as we want. 

How good the Lord Jesus is to you and me!
He also gives us the saints. 
We don’t always know how to live the right way, so we learn from them.
They accompany us, they pray for us, they encourage us.
No matter how alone you may feel, you are never alone.
There is a great crowd of witnesses with you every day!

How good Jesus is to us!
He gives us the sacraments, above all, the Eucharist.
The Mass brings us to Calvary, with Mary and John.
Notice in the Gospel, Jesus said, gather every bit of bread,
And each Apostle had a full basket. What did they do with it?
Maybe they gave it away in the next town,
Or maybe that was their own food for the next couple of days?

See how they treasured what was mere, ordinary bread, 
and why not? It came [miraculously]* from the hand of Jesus himself!
Now see what Jesus gives us: not bread at all – but His Body, his Blood, 
taken from his side, pierced on the Cross, so we can live forever! 

How good Jesus is to us!
There's an old TV slogan, from advertising, and it went like this:
“Accept no substitutes!” 

* Added at several Masses.

1 comment:

Rose said...

Father this cuts straight to the heart, my heart and the heart of the matter.

Beautifully written. Thank you.